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The journal of developments in social services, policy - page 8 / 11





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for Health and Children but the legislation does not specify how that approval/direction is to be exercised. Private patients who are being admitted to hospital for non-emergency reasons may not be accommodated in a public bed; similarly, public patients in these circumstances may not be accommodated in a private bed.

If you are a private patient and you have to be admitted in an emergency, then you may be given a public bed but only if no private bed is available, and you must be moved to a private bed when one becomes available. The situation applies in reverse for a public emergency patient – you may only be given a private bed if no public bed is available.

Charges for in-patient services

Your entitlement to receive in-patient services does not necessarily mean that you have an entitlement to free services. The legislation provides for both short-stay and long-stay charges. These charges relate to maintenance only; there are no charges for medical services.

Out-patient services

The HSE is obliged to provide out-patient services for everyone with full and limited eligibility (Section 56 of the Health Act 1970 as amended by the Health (Amendment) Act 1987 and the Health (Amendment) Act 1991). Again, this entitlement does not mean that you are necessarily entitled to free out-patient services. Charges for out-patient services are provided for in the Health (Out-Patient Charges) Regulations, 1994 (SI 37/1994) as amended.

National Treatment Purchase Fund

The National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) is established under the Health (Corporate Bodies) Act 1961 and the National Treatment Purchase Fund Board (Establishment) Order, 2004 (SI 179/2004) as affirmed by the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2007. It was set up to reduce the time that public hospital patients have to wait for treatment by arranging for them to get treatment in private hospitals in the State or in the UK. At present, it is possible to get certain treatment and procedures under the fund if you have been on the waiting list for three months.

You may be referred to the NTPF by your GP, your consultant, hospital or the HSE. You may also contact the fund directly yourself but you must be on a waiting list in order to qualify for treatment.

Generally, if you are on a waiting list for a particular procedure, you are contacted by the hospital or Local Health Office to find out if you are interested in getting treatment under the NTPF. If you are not contacted and you want to get the treatment, you may get in touch with the NTPF directly. If you agree to treatment under the fund, you are asked to give your permission to have your medical records transferred to the hospital where you are to be treated. You do not have to agree to treatment under the fund and, if you do not, you retain your place on the waiting list.

The public hospitals and the HSE have a number of liaison officers for the NTPF scheme. The hospitals where treatment is provided also have liaison officers. You are usually first contacted by the liaison officer from the hospital on whose waiting list you are or the HSE liaison officer. If you decide to have treatment under the fund, you are contacted by the liaison officer in the treating hospital to tell you the date of the proposed treatment and advise you of the plans you need to make.

You may receive your treatment in a private hospital in Ireland or in the UK. If it is provided in a private hospital in Ireland, you may be treated there by your current

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